It was a humid, rainy season day in Thailand and the drum towers were striking seven.
Me? Kind of you to ask. I'm currently occupied with the challenging and stimulating years that lie between birth and death. So far so good. Truth be told, I'm a lucky so and so. Every day I catch a few more of the world's absurdities. Often I find myself having a chortle at the lighter side of the planet's wonkiness and as the years roll by I gain a little more confidence and get to grips with many of Mrs. Earth's intricacies and foibles. Though there's a fair few that I am leaving right alone.
What's going on here in these writings is that I am remembering some of those mad bits and many of the straight forward things now times have passed and spaces have become distant.
I'm putting down my thoughts about my traveled to places. I'm remembering as if I'm holding a dinner party - and you're in here with me noshing on a geographical amuse bouches. As the host I'm the one igniting the conversations.
"Clifford. Clifford, have you met Barbara? No? Well Clifford, this is Barbara. And Barbara, this is Clifford. Barbara's been known to balance sliced caramelised strawberries on her kneecaps at charity events for the British Red Cross in the Sudan, you know. She has more talents, but let me allow Barbara to talk with you regarding those. Oh, refills."
Then I quietly retreat, leaving Clifford and Barbara to it.
Except for Barbara you may get Pyongyang, or Havana, or Phnom Penh, Great Yarmouth, Norwich, Kingsbury or loads of options. And your name probably isn't Clifford.
Experiential place introductions. Stories and chats. That's what I'm into. Yes, yes, oh oh Meg Ryan in a diner yes, yes, yes. The places I've met and the trail I've met them on.
I'll start with my birth in Finchley in north west London. Then it will be off through my growing years in the Home Counties of South East England. Through early adulthood and Europe, then Africa and also get East Asia. I'm now aging in Thailand and popping in and out of the Middle East and the Americas - you'll get those as well. And other topophilic spots. Lots. Through three hundred memorable places we'll waltz the fifty plus countries and seven continents I've visited in a muted tango of excitement. We can dance together chronologically, as best as a chubby six foot four bloke can.
But, hey, you know what it's like when you listen to an album on your iPod. These writings will probably end up like that. You hear one song and you're off thinking about another on a different album. And you can't listen to that next song without thinking of the other version, or the live performance or the extended mix when someone else did it. In the past a D90 cassette lead us in one direction. Now we've got musical anarchy on our 'Walkmans'. Nowadays I've found I can rarely can get through Rachmaninov's Brief Encounter without having to hit the theme for Breakfast at Tiffanys, then whisk away into another New York mind space, or a Dustin Hoffman movie scene, or a De Niro Streep Redford hopscotch and before I know it I am in Out of Africa. English train station, Fifth Avenue and Kenya - all in under fifteen minutes.
Lord knows where the tunes will end up by the time my whisky's run out. Aye. This blog might become like that; all my places stored somewhere on the menu, but sometimes pulled in out of synch in a structureless, Foucault-esque memory twiddle.
But first. I should do the niceties. I should offer up some of me so you know what you're going to get and from who.
It was my Auntie Violet that taught me these polite manners. I'd like to think that she taught me well. She showed me that introductions and a display of trust for the person you're chatting with is pretty important to set the relationship running in the right direction.
"Give me a boy until the age of seven and I will show you the man" someone once said. That may have been my Uncle Doug (Auntie Vi's husband), but I doubt it. Whoever it was that said it I think they were referring to Shakespeare. Or possibly it was Shakespeare himself.
But I couldn't get my hands on stuff about me to the age of seven. All I could edit together was some shaky old cine film footage of me to about the age of four. Therefore, could I suggest an updated sociological mantra... "Give me a toddler's home movies until the age of four and you'll get a pretty fair idea about the boy of seven."
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